A sort of life

Deus ex machina

RICHMOND, Va. — I speak without a doubt: I now sport the worst haircut I have ever had in my life. Ever. What was before, what I had to offer before this surly cut was nothing to bark about. As often happens in the months between clippings, my hair begins to take the shape of a mullet. It was not good, let’s be frank with each other. But with little effort I could work a Brian Setzer like flow. Sans pomp. Sans Gretsch. Combed back in front, a little long, a little rounded in back.

But it’s gone today.

Today I went cheap. Some background: I haven’t found a person capable of doing the do well since Perth when I let a wonderful Polish woman run her hands through my hair. She was wonderful. And because I’m an awkward guy and because my friend was a friend of her family, I got a $40 haircut for the princely sum of $20. Anyway, she was the best I’ve ever had.

And today I did Super Cuts. The worst Jerry, the worst. I got scalped. Scalped Jerry!

I should have known better. How could I have ever possibly expected satisfaction from a salon that sponsors their own NASCAR? How could I have not known how bad this would be? How dumb could I possibly be?

It started out fine. Walking along the strip mall infrastructure I was serenaded by a Musak-ified Born in the USA. Bruce, were he dead, and not cremated, would be spinning in his grave. But whatever — this is America. So I go inside.

“Shampoo and cut?”


“What’s your name hun?”


So I go in and sit down. Woman mutters something about water pressure. Something about the weather. A Eucalyptus-mentholated blend and a quickie rinse. OK. Sit down. She attacks my head, clippers in hand, with the same vigor of a fat kid batting left handed with a bowl of chile con queso. Then she stops. “Oh shit. I’ve got to go to the bathroom.”

“Huh?” I look around. She’s already gone.

I turn my attention to the other cutter in the place. She’s telling her sitter about how her dead beat ex-husband once tried his hand cutting their beautiful kids. How it ends up drawing blood of some kind. How she has to shave it. They have to shave it. And then she’s got this cackle laugh. It is at this point that I want to run. But I have half a cut. I stay planted.

My cutter comes back. “Whoooo. Now I can cut some hair!” There’s a bitter smell that followed her out. It’s not feces. It could be worse. But something’s not right. She pulls her purse out from under the counter and starts digging through it. Out comes a giant bottle of moisturizer. Then she grabs my head and starts again. She’s roughing me up. I imagine what It’d be like to be fucked by her. I’d be roughed up. Part of me likes that. But then that bitter smell torpedoes that desire. I start eying the exit. She sees I’m not into it. I can see she doesn’t care. It’s done.

We’re done. She says something about buying a lottery ticket to her cackling colleague. Agreement. They’ll buy a ticket. She begins dancing.

I usually go to hair cut places wearing a hat. I usually don’t put that hat back on until later. Sometimes it’s in the car on the way home. Sometimes it’s much later. Today, I didn’t even wait to leave the shop. The hat went on, I pushed the cash on the table and left.

“Deus ex machina” is from Volume One: Frank’s Wild Years (1983–2009). Written between 2003 and 2009, Volume One was this author’s attempt to find meaning from life as a young twenty-something. While this endeavor would ultimately fail, what remains is a comical tale of loneliness and debauchery.

Murder in silhouette

Murder in silhouette

This writer models during a photography class at the American International School in Wien, Österreich circa November 1995.

Then she grabs my head and starts again. She's roughing me up.